Re: So what does it cost?
From: Becky Weaver (beckyweaverswbell.net)
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 12:46:03 -0700 (PDT)
An easy, fun way to figure out your usual local building cost is to go to open 
houses & tour different new-construction building types. Look at what you get 
for the price. This is very likely going to be your total development cost for 
something similar. 
   
  If you see something you really like, find out who developed it, take them to 
lunch, rave about their work, and see if they'd be interested in doing 
something similar for you. Mention how many buyers you already have in your 
group. Assume the developer needs to make money on anything they do for you. It 
may look like a lot of money to you. Remember that's their salary (and maybe 
their employees') for well over a year of full-time professional work, and that 
if something happens and the project tanks, they will not have gotten paid at 
all.  
   
  Things you may consider extra unwanted costs (fancy finish-out, huge square 
footage) are often cheap for the builders and make buyers feel like they're 
getting a nice place for their money. That is why they are ubiquitous. Eschew 
them if you find them excessive, but don't expect to save a ton of money that 
way. You will definitely save money by cutting back total square footage and 
going with an inexpensive finish. But a house that's 50% smaller is *not* 50% 
cheaper. A house in the same neighborhood of the same size with a really 
cheap-o finish is maybe 2% less expensive than the same house with really nice 
finish. 
   
  Compare these variables if possible until you get some idea of what they 
really cost. They may make a real difference to your community members. I am 
certainly not advocating for a "do everything top quality because it will cost 
nearly the same in the end" approach. Remember that any extra costs you finance 
into your mortage (as opposed to paying cash for) cost much more than the 
number on the page, once you include interest payments. Constant cheeseparing 
does make a *real* difference in your final cost. Just be realistic about 
whether you can really cut your costs compared to the new construction you see. 
It's not likely that you can make an appreciable difference by cutting a few 
"luxury" items. 
   
  If "shopping" for new homes is not an option (little new construction in your 
area) ask a local architect or builder. They will, however, likely not know 
what development (financing, site work, project management, fees, permits etc.) 
will cost. To find out about fees, contact your municipality, county, state, 
utilities, department of transportation, department of environmental 
protection, and everybody else you can think of. You may have to do this for 
each site you're considering since they will be different. Then add on 30% 
extra for fees you didn't think of. 
   
  If you are not working with an experienced local developer, expect to do a 
lot of legwork to figure out your expected costs. 
   
  Becky Weaver
  Kaleidoscope Village/Central Austin Cohousing
  Austin, TX

Sharilyn Rediess <sredies1 [at] rochester.rr.com> wrote:
  "Do you have a sense of what $180/s.f. construction cost will get you in
your region?"

Related to this thread, how can you find out what the usual building cost
per s.f. is in a particular area? Where can I find that info? And how can
you know what the figure with get you (as the question above asks)? I would
think that number might vary also with the type of structure (single family
home versus condo unit, etc). I also assume that the figure would include
only actual building costs and not fees, permits, site clean up, correct?

Thanks,

Shari Rediess
Rochester, NY


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